Primary Passions: January 11, 2004 [On Blogging]

Today’s Ian Bogost’s post about the self-referentiality of blogging (and the humanities) made me remember this brief post of mine, published originally 8 years ago today on my now-deleted blog, Never Neutral. I wrote it when I was revising to defend my MA dissertation on Art Spiegelman and graphic narrative as a work of mourning, and at a time in which many colleagues and professors insisted blogging would damage my academic prospects. At that time I had been reading Derrida’s Résistances- de la psychanalyse (1996) and Butler’s The Psychic Life of Power (1997) which had originally informed the last chapter of my MA thesis, “Postponing Suicide: A Means to an End”.

 I have reposted it below. 

[The strength of self-reflexivity] always stand in proportion to the capacity for communication of a human being (or animal), capacity for communication in turn in proportion to need for communication… Consciousness evolved at all only under the pressure of need for communication.

-Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1974: 354). 

One could always say: this is pure repetition. Blogging, a form of narcissistic acting out. The blogger as the analysand who comes back to the analyst’s office, to say whatever comes into his/her mind, most of the times not looking at the listener’s (here, reader’s) face. What unconscious, repressed thoughts, behavior, are expressed through blogging as a form of acting out? Nowadays it is a common-place amongst bloggers to discuss the experience of reading one’s blog in retrospect.  Who dares to do that? Who, driven by what forces, could stand it? What common-places, what tropes, what topoi would we find, what traces, what shadows, what reappearing ghosts are we afraid of locating if we dared to read our past archives?

The immediacy, the real-time condition of electronic publishing implies a strange temporality, an “always-present” that allows almost unmediated utterance. The narcissistic nature of the blogger, then, poses interesting and highly complex questions in relation to writing, the subjectivation process through discourse production, the poetics of time and space, literature and art, autobiography and testimony, and, why not, trauma and pain and the role of language in processes of mourning and working-through. Blogging, as a form of meta-fiction, implies self-consciousness. Not unlike psychoanalysis and some forms of so-called postmodern fiction and art, blogging works within a double-bind: in the end, blogs may not be speaking about anything else but themselves. In other words, the only space to discuss the possibilities and consequences of blogging may be the blogs themselves. One should not forget the theoretical, political dangers this would imply.

So, a resistance to blogging would be called for. Not unlike a resistance, or shoud we say resistances to psychoanalysis. Has psychoanalysis, as a social practice, for instance, been able to exceed its own narcissism, its own self-narrative? Has its own self-consciousness been able to escape its own self-imposed limits to interact with a world, with a society trapped by injustice, lack of love, violence, intellectual and material poverty?

How will blogging (or has blogging even considered to) interact with a world that does not exist around the Internet, not even around computers? And, how will the writing and reading individual, the one who aspires to self-consciousness through communication –in this case blogging– will change? Will authors just leave behind a paralytic, handicapped form of self-reflexive, egotistical narcissism, or will it be something else?

To quote the Canadian sociologist Erving Goffmann, [digital humanists] begin with the powerful question, “what is it that’s going on?” One might say that it is the duty, indeed the social mandate of the humanities, to ask this question comprehensively of the digital age. Who else will pry into what’s happening to us all, find out what we can do about it, what we can do with ourselves because of it?
Willard McCarty, responding to Matthew Reisz 

During the DigitalHumanities 2011 conference in Stanford, BethanyNowviskie launched #Alt-Academy, a site within the MediaCommons project. I asked Bethany about the initiative…

Brief reports from the International Conference on Latin American Cybercultural Studies at the University of Liverpool and “Flash Symposium: Short papers on short fiction" at Birkbeck College, London.

Me getting all fire alarm… #loveHE